Earlier this week we guided you on where to find your favorite Cardinals on Twitter. Now we’ll be introducing you to some of the newer or lesser known players to wear the Birds on the Bat in our Better Know a Cardinal series. We’re going to kick things off with probably the biggest acquisition of the offseason.
Jason Adenolith Heyward was born August 9, 1989 in Ridgewood, New Jersey to two Darthmouth graduates.1
Heyward was drafted by the Atlanta Braves straight out of Henry County High School in Georgia in 2007 at the age of 17. In his senior year at Henry County he batted a gentleman’s .520, driving in 29 RBIs, and hitting 8 homeruns.2
He quickly established himself as one of the top prospects in the minors showing off impressive power, speed, and defense. Enough so that he became the Braves opening day starter in right field in 2010.
On his very first swing at an MLB pitch Heyward hit a 471 foot three run homer off Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano.
During his 2010 rookie season Heyward was named to the All Star Game, finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, and twentieth in MVP voting.
His 2011 season was a bit of a step back as he dealt with injuries throughout. However, in 2012 he had a breakout season driving in 82 runs on 27 homeruns and gathering 21 steals3 all while playing rightfield well enough to earn him his first Gold Glove.
In 2013 Heyward again dealt with injuries most notably wearing a John Niese fastball off the face resulting in a broken jaw that required surgery and the protective helmet your sure to see him donning for the Cardinals this season. Heyward did return in September that year and continued his hot second half finishing with a .333 average over his last 31 games from July 28th on.
In 2014 the Braves primarily used Heyward as their leadoff hitter. He finished the year with a .271/.351./.384 slash line.4 More impressively though he finished with a 6.3 WAR5 and a 2.8 dWAR6 on the way to winning his second Gold Glove.
This past offseason the Cardinals acquired Jason Heyward via a trade with the Braves that saw the Birds send Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves for Heyward and RHP Jordan Walden.
What to Expect
The sky seems to be the limit for Heyward. He’ll be donning number 22 and patrolling right field for the Cardinals in 2015. Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny isn’t planning on batting Heyward in the leadoff spot. Heyward has been open about his thoughts that batting leadoff limits his approach somewhat and the Cardinals hope to free him up at the plate after his stint at leadoff with the Braves saw an increase in walks along with a decrease in slugging.
A photo posted by Xavier Scruggs (@xavier_scruggs) on
The Cardinals are definitely hoping to get power numbers closer to Heyward’s 2012 season that saw him hit 27 homeruns while driving in 82 RBIs. Which was also the last season he did not primarily bat in the lead off spot. Heyward is one of those rare players that combines both power and speed. So there’s every indication he could have a big 2015 season.